Monday, 27 August 2018

Madagascar Post 5 - Days 16 - 20

I still have images to add


Our birding trip was organised Madagascar Tour Guide (madagascar.tour.guide@gmail.com), who were really well organised. Our guide for most of our the trip was Julian, who was brilliant at digging our the birds as well as sorting things out for us along the way. The company is owned by Andre who came to meet us as we passed through Tena. I would highly recommend them and  the prices were modest.




Day 16 - 23/08/2018



Thursday 23rd August 2018 our new guide NDrema met us at the Sakamanga Hotel in Tena at 6.30 am for our long drive to the North West of Madagascar to Ankarafansika NP, where he is from. The traffic was pretty bad getting out of Tena so it was about 8 am before we hit countryside. It was dry and mountainous most of the way with really really bendy, stomach churning, roads.


We stopped at about 10.45 am to try and find a Madagascan Harrier, which we found miles away, eventually.

Today was the day my GCSE exam results came out. So I had agreed withy sister Ayesha Ahmed-Mendoza that she would go to my school at 9am GMT at pick up my exam results. My mum had already given a letter giving consent for her to collect by results. Then she was going to phone me, open the envelope and read me my grades. The only problem was that there was virtually no reception in the mountains.

So as I was standing there in a red, dusty, desert mountain watching and ticking a Madagascar Harriers, my dad’s phone started ringing. I picked up the phone and Ayesha started reading my results. It was the clash of my two worlds; the most important things to me juxtaposed together. Some of my results were better than expected and some worse but overall I was relieved and happy.


Day 17 - 24/08/2018

Friday 24th August  2018 we set out early to bird at Ankarafansika NP with Ndrema. The forest was a dry deciduous forest, with a proper criss-cross of paths, making it easy to bird.

New birds for the day were Frances’s Sparrowhawk, Madagascan Sparrowhawk, White-breasted Mesite, Madagascan Green Pigeon, Coquerel’s Coua, Van Dam’s Vanga and Rufous Vanga, 

However we just could not get onto the Schlegel’s Asity.

Then in the afternoon, we got a boat onto the lake next to the reserve, Ravelobe Lake. Here we saw Nile Crocodiles and 2 pairs of our target, Madagascan Fish Eagle.

We then went back to the forest, again trying for Schlegel’s Asity, but although we heard them going to roost we didn’t see any.


Day 18 - 25/08/2018

Saturday 25th August 2018 we started birding at 5.45 am at Ankarafansika NP, trying for Schlegel’s Asity where we heard them go to roost the night before. Our luck was in, as they started calling at 6 am in the same place. After a few minutes, we had  some fantastic of a pair showing really well.

We then went back to the lodge for a 6.30 am breakfast before heading north west to Mahajanga for the night. First enroute, we stopped at two wetland/lakes. The first was great for Madagascar Jacana, a new bird for us. African Pygmy Goose was also new for the trip. At the second we saw Hottentot Teal as well as the Jacana.

It was interesting to visit the first as there were lots of adults and children who were friendly and interested in what were doing.

We arrived in Mahajanga in the early afternoon, which was a big city. We were staying at the Badamier Hotel which was lovely and a bit different as it had a Lebanese vegetarian menu. We had the rest of the day off to use the internet or catch up on sleep.


Day 19 - 26/08/2018

On Sunday 26th August 2018, we had to be at the harbourside at 7 am, where we look a speedboat out to the estuary, to bird the Betsiboka Estuary.

The two new birds that were targets were Bernier’s Teal and Malagasy Sacred Ibis. We saw quite a few of the Teal but only 2-3 of the Ibis. I was hoping to see returning migrants, Crab Plover and Sandersons’ Tern, but they weren’t back to Madagascar yet.

We then had a quick lunch in a place in Mahajanga which overlooked the sea. We are all at the point of being fed up of terrible veggie food, usually a tasteless choice of rice and veg, noodles & veg and maybe veg soup.

We then started our journey back to Ankarafansika NP, where we arrived in the early evening. We went out for a night safari and saw Mouse Lemur.

Before we arrived in Madagascar, my Dad Chris Craig worked out which birds were possible targets taking into account the ones we weren’t within range for (eg Madagascar Pochard), the ones that were migrants in Africa that time of year (eg Madagascar Pratincole and Crab Plover) and the ones on the list that were unknown or extinct. That gave us a target list of 132 new birds. Based on that, he thought that if we saw 120 birds, we would be doing brilliantly.

At the end of today, we had seen 120 new world birds in Madagascar, bang on target.  We were targeting two more new birds in the North East but apart from those, it was unlikely we would see anything else, although obviously we would try. So at the moment, we were likely to end the trip on 122 new world birds.

With 120 new birds, that takes my world list up to 4,956, with 44 to get to 5,000.


Day 20 - 27/08/2018

Monday 27th August 2018 we had our long reverse journey back to Tana. Ndrema stayed with us for the first four hours whilst we looked for Madagascan Pratincole on any suitable stretches of river with rocks on them. We had no luck, which was not surprising as they normally don’t return until September.

We then said goodbye to Ndrema who headed back to Ankarafansika NP, whilst we carried onto Tena and the Saka Manga Hotel. Ndrema said that he had a group of two birders arriving that evening, so had to return.

In the middle of the Mountains, our driver started reversing and we wondered if he had seed a bird. But them we saw Julian who was with the group of two birders, travelling to meet up with Ndrema. It was really lovely to see him and say hello, even for 2 minutes. The group was actually a Spanish guy and his young teenager daughter. He wasn’t friendly I didn't try and speak Spanish with them.

That evening we arrived at the Saka Manca Hotel in Tena for another night stop.




About the Author

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Antarctica
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Mya-Rose Craig is a 16-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent. She is looking forward to visiting Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar birding in 2018 and hopes to see her 5000th bird species in the world.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people
She is an Ambassador for World Shorebirds Day, See It Her Way and a Charter Champion for The Charter for Woods, Trees and People. She has given over 50 talks, speaking at conferences such as being on a panel with George Monbiot and Caroline Lucas on Sustainability and the Future of Cities. She has also appeared on TV an dis particularly proud of being in Silent Roars, a short film which was part of Listen to Britain 2017 https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-silent-roars-2017-onlineShe organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature and plans to run her fifth Camp Avalon camp in 2018. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of Black Asian Minority Ethnic people. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. She has been awarded the Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award 2017 for Bristol for her Black2Nature work EYA 2017Please also like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter.










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